You know that “new relationship” feeling? The one with all the euphoria? Well, that’s kind of what I imagine it feels like to be involved in a start-up. As a person who loves to collaborate on big ideas, I know that head-in-the-clouds, anything-is-possible feeling. It’s like everything is gonna be great – it’s a feeling of promise and hope and eager desire. For a marketer like me, it kinda equates with “engagement”. And in a business setting, that feeling gets ideas churning like nothing else. Because there’s just So. Much. Possibility. How can well-established companies, whose own start-up roots are buried deep in the bedrock, hone in on – and gain from - that feeling? One word: “Innovation”.
The world of Internet marketing is young – it’s vibrant, bold, and growing all the time. It seems like every day, I learn of another new method to reach customers (and by “customers” I mean people at every stage of engagement – potential customers, existing customers, estranged customers and evangelists) and it’s so exciting. Social media, webinars, pop-up ads, PPC, content marketing, email - the Internet offers a wealth of possibility!
New businesses seem to always be jumping right onto the bandwagon – they see a great marketing opportunity rolling by, and boy do they hop on board. I think it’s because a new company still has such a great entrepreneurial spirit. Everyone’s excited because everything is so new – since the marketers don’t yet know what works for them, they’re open to new things. Instead of saying “oh, we tried that once, it didn’t work,” or “oh, well sure company X is doing it, but it’ll fail” they say “hey, here’s this new thing that might help us be a little faster, a little stronger, let’s try it!” They haven’t “learned” what doesn’t work for them, so they see everything through the eyes of potential. “Hey, this might work!”
It’s not just new companies that manage to do this, though; some very well-established companies manage to keep their entrepreneurial spirit alive throughout the business. Google, for example, doesn’t let their talent pool stagnate due to specialization. Under Google’s “20 percent time” initiative, employees are encouraged to have pet projects, and are even given company-time to work on those projects, to recruit team members and to advertise inside the company so that their ideas will catch on. Maybe every company can’t be Google, but we can all learn from this innovative, can-do, grass-roots attitude.
In a previous post, I talked about how you can create your own engagement at work by taking on a pet project – well, I didn’t even know about 20 percent time then (I guess I was under a rock?), so that’s just proof that I’m a genius. Anyway, Google’s not the only company that concurs - Apple has Blue Sky, LinkedIn has InCubator, and William McKnight, IBM’s Chairman of the Board from 1949 – 1966 said, in essence, that it is imperative for companies to foster creativity, rather than stifle it, even in the face of mistakes…
“Management that is destructively critical when mistakes are made kills initiative. And it’s essential that we have many people with initiative if we are to continue to grow.”
“To find a career to which you are adapted by nature, and then to work hard at it, is about as near to a formula for success and happiness as the world provides… Then hard work is not hard work at all.” (Mark Sullivan)
If you are considering a new career venture, or if you don’t love what you do for a living/don’t feel like you’re very good at it, or if you’re feeling generally unfulfilled by your career, then it will be very helpful for you to do two things: identify your strengths, and find your hedgehog.
First, to find your strengths. Lyn Christian of Soul Salt Coaching, together with Harry Nelson, founded a program called Headtrip Audio Magazine and produced a fantastic package of these programs on CD, called the Entrepreneur’s Starter Kit. The CD’s give a lot of great advice, among which is to read Jim Collins‘ book, Good to Great, and find your hedgehog concept.
Now, I’m not digressing, I promise. I am talking about first finding your strengths, and then finding your hedgehog; but I found my strengths only because I knew I needed to look for my hedgehog. In one of the editions of Headtrip Audio, Lyn interviewed a coach named Wade Lindstrom, Director of Coaching at PEI, and Wade suggested that you start the process of finding your hedgehog by making some lists, one of which is: stuff that you’re really good at. Well, Wade and Lyn agreed (and I do, too,) that you might not know what you’re good at. Peter Drucker said “Most people think they know what they are good at. They are usually wrong… And yet, a person can perform only from strength.” In my quest for answers, I discovered the StrengthsFinder 2.0 and I fell in love.
The StrengthsFinder tool is so simple to use, so intuitive, so revealing and affirming, that I firmly believe that everyone could benefit from it. When you purchase the StrengthsFinder 2.0 book, you get a code, which you use to take the StrengthsFinder 2.0 quiz. If, like me, you are too impatient to wait for your hardcover book to arrive in the mail, or to wait till you can get to your local bookstore, then buy the e-book and your code will be emailed to you. Then take the quiz, and you will discover your top five Strengths. As each strength is revealed to you, so is an action plan for capitalizing on that strength. Additionally, you get tips on who will be the best types of people to connect with–people with strengths complementary to yours–so that you can both achieve maximum potential.
If you are feeling disengaged at work, or like you are always told to focus on “fixing” your weaknesses, or like you have great ideas but no opportunity to put them into action, it may well be because you are not working from your strengths. If you are feeling like a misfit, a square peg in a round hole, it’s probably because you are… not working from your strengths. Take the StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessment, and your wheels will start to turn.
My own top five strengths are Futuristic, Strategic, Competitive, Input & Leaner. When I first read the descriptions for each of these, I was underlining sentences and writing “Yes!” in the margins – the descriptions were that spot-on. Finally I felt like I had a firm grasp on the first part of my hedgehog concept, which is figuring out what you’re good at.
Now, the hedgehogs. Jim Collins defined the hedgehog concept, basically, as being something at which you are really passionate, something at which you are really really good, and something that people will pay money for. A Venn diagram, like the one accompanying this post, helps to illustrate this.
It can be daunting, but if you take the time to thoroughly, honestly examine your talents & your passions, and think about how you could use those attributes to provide something of value to the world, you will find your hedgehog; you may even find more than one.
Dedicated to helping you find success through authenticity – embracing your strengths, being true to yourself, and so much more: engagement, planning, motivation, strategy, leadership, organizational behavior, entrepreneurship, goals, marketing. I am constantly learning new things, and I love to share what I know. If I find a resource that’s useful in achieving these kinds of goals, I’ll share it.